Cherry Cake: Preheat your oven to 400
degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter, or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, a 9 inch (23 cm) spring form pan.
Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper.
In a small saucepan, melt the
butter. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Rinse and dry the cherries.
15 cherries, cut them in half, take out the pit, and place on a
sheet of paper towel, cut side down. Set them aside as they will be placed on
the top of the cake during baking. To the rest of the cherries, pit, and cut into
small pieces (to be folded into the cake batter).
In a separate bowl,
sift or whisk the flour with the
ground almonds, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of your electric
stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment
(or with a hand mixer), beat the eggs and sugar, on medium high speed, until thick and light colored (about
3-5 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract and almond extract (if using).
Then fold in, with a spatula or wire whisk, the melted and cooled butter
and milk just until
incorporated. Next, fold in the flour mixture. Gently fold in the
chopped cherries (not the 15 cherries that you have
halved for the top of the cake). Pour the batter into the
prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula or back of a spoon.
Bake for 14 to 15 minutes or
until the batter is set, then remove from oven. Quickly arrange the remaining cherries, cut side down, on the top of the cake. Return the cake to the oven and bake for a further
15 minutes or until
golden brown and a toothpick, inserted into the cake, comes out clean. If
you find the cake over browning during baking, cover with a piece of foil.
Remove from oven and place on a
wire rack to cool slightly (about 10 minutes). Remove the sides of the pan.
In a small saucepan heat the apricot preserves until boiling. Remove from heat
and strain to get rid of lumps. Add the water or liqueur.
Using a pastry brush, lightly
brush the top of the cake, both the cherries and cake, with the apricot glaze.
If desired, sprinkle the edges of the cake with the toasted and chopped almonds or pearl
Serve warm, at room temperature,
or cold. This cake can be frozen.
Makes 8 - 10 servings.
Note: To toast the
almonds. Place on baking sheet and bake in 350 F (180 C) oven for about 6 to 8
minutes or until brown and fragrant. Let cool and then finely chop.